Ethiopia must allow in observers after killings – UN

Ethiopia must allow in observers after killings - UN

The U.N. human rights chief urged Ethiopia on Wednesday (August 10) to allow international observers into restive regions where residents and opposition officials say 90 protesters were shot dead by security forces at the weekend.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromiya and Amhara regions must be investigated and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities.

“Yes, we’ve heard these reports and we are clearly alarmed about these reports. Any reports concerning excessive use of force by any security force will draw this response from us,” Zeid told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.

“We will in a very short order be discussing with the Ethiopian authorities the need to have access to those particular areas, t here are two particular areas where we can again establish for ourselves the facts as they relate to these serious allegations of course,” he added.

Unrest flared in Oromiya for several months until early this year over plans to allocate farmland surrounding the regional capital for development. Authorities in the Horn of Africa state scrapped the scheme in January, but protests flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.

At the weekend, protesters chanted anti-government slogans and waved dissident flags. Some demanded the release of jailed opposition politicians. Information on the reported killings has been difficult to obtain, Zeid said.

In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, hundreds of protesters clashed with police on Saturday (August 6) after campaigners called for nationwide protests due to what they say is an unfair distribution of wealth in the country.

The demonstrations started as a small-scale student protest over the government’s plan to expand the capital into adjacent farm lands of Oromiya, which is Ethiopia’s largest constitutionally autonomous state.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Monday (August 8) that “illegal protests” by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control. It did not mention casualties.

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